Students and parents call out school board - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Students and parents call out school board

Posted: Updated:
Washington High School students and parents gather at school board meeting. Washington High School students and parents gather at school board meeting.

The Cedar Rapids School Board met for the first time since a longtime principal says he was asked to step down.

Dr. Ralph Plagman was principal at Washington High School for 35 years and worked in the Cedar Rapids School District for 49 years.

The retirement announcement came in the midst of a sex scandal surrounding the school, involving former substitute teacher Mary Beth Haglin and a high school student.

Multiple parents and students spoke during tonight's meeting.

"He has worked hard to make the best decision with the available facts every day of those 49 years and you threw him away for it. I'm embarrassed that our district is being held hostage by a sexual predator," said Jane Hutchins, a Washington High School Parent and PTA member.

Parents called out the school board, but the district stood it's ground.

"Both the district and Dr. Plagman agreed that it was in the best interest of both parties that he not return for the 2016-17 school year, said Dr. Brad Buck, Cedar Rapids School District Superintendent.

"Earlier tonight you referred to the issue being decided what's best for the two parties the school board and Dr. Plagman, you forgot the third party and the most important party, the students of Washington High School," Peter Nassif, a Washington High School senior told the board.

"He has been there for our entire high school careers and he promised he would finish it out with our class, his 50th year in the district. We would have had a year to say our goodbyes and to give him the respect and dignity that he gave us, but we have been left without our leader and without closure," said Peter Greubel, Washington High School senior class of 2017 president.

As emotions ran high, John Laverty who is Board President and also a Washington High School parent spoke up.

"I am sick to my stomach I have been sick to my stomach for weeks as have many of us over this issue, when I said we do not take this lightly, we do not take it lightly," Laverty said.

Laverty claiming the district had no choice but to accept Dr. Plagman's retirement.

He said the board did not ask Dr. Plagman to retire, instead they showed him facts and he chose to retire.

The board says they will make a statement after the investigation is complete which they say should be soon.

Washington High School will begin the upcoming school year with an interim principal.

During the meeting, Superintendent Brad Buck spoke about some areas where they plan to improve:

"(1) the need to formalize a process for ensuring Level one investigators refresh their training on a regular basis within the parameters of Iowa law; (2) the need for a central point of contact to verify compliance with District wide Level one investigation training and certification; (3) regular training for administrators regarding the type of investigation to be performed upon a complaint and the appropriate investigative procedures to be used depending on the facts/circumstances of each complaint; (4) the need for communication between the building administrators and the District administrators about complaints and the nature/type of investigations occurring as a result; and (5) the need to document and train administrators on when to remove substitute teachers from the system the District uses with GWAEA and a process for reporting that removal of substitute teachers from the system to a central point of contact at the District Office. We are also considering an internal audit process to verify compliance with District policies and investigative procedures."

Powered by Frankly